By Scott Fitzgerald
Annie Jenkins had to weigh the pros and cons of what was offered to her as she pursued her first teaching job shortly after graduating from Northwestern State Oklahoma University last spring.
She had done her student teaching requirements at Taft Elementary School under the guidance of first-grade teacher Raymie Holland.
The 1999 Oklahoma Bible Academy graduate was seeking a teaching position for first-graders. Enid Public Schools offered her a job teaching fourth-graders at Taft.
“I already knew the teachers and administrators at Taft. I absolutely loved it. But then I had to weigh it out and decide whether I wanted to wait for a first-grade teaching spot to open somewhere else,” Jenkins said.
She decided to pursue what Taft was offering her and is glad about her decision today. It’s been a learning experience for her.
“I notice a wider freedom of teaching. There is a broader spectrum,” Jenkins said about the differences between teaching at the two levels.
First graders start on a clean slate. They are embarking upon school as a full day and need to develop their social adaptation to the task at hand.
Fourth graders have a few years experience of full day schooling under their belts. Teachers work more on the learning curve.
“There’s more hands-on teaching involved. You give them (fourth graders) more responsibility. If they are behind, you work with them. I was amazed at the diversity of learning at the two levels,” Jenkins said.
Regarding her educational training from NWOSU that she described as “excellent,” Jenkins realized that understanding theories of learning and applying them in real-life settings, such as the classroom full of students, were two different distinct things.
“I thought coming in,I had great head knowledge. I learned the most, however, when I student taught,” Jenkins said.
She realizes the need for further formal instruction and has attended workshops during her first year of teaching.
Like most new graduates who embark upon their first job, Jenkins didn’t want to make a mistake. She could sometimes be seen in her classroom on a weekday night, long after the last bell rang as she worked on preparing the next day’s instruction or measured the learning progression of each of her students. She took her work home with her also.
“Christmas was my breaking point. I was making myself burned out. Now, I can leave at 4:30 p.m.,” she said about balancing her personal schedule.
Jenkins is enthusiastic about her career.
“I’ve had my ups and downs this year. I love coming everyday. I think that’s a sign you are in the right profession,” Jenkins said.